San Francisco, CA - After pitching a no-hitter in his last outing, Tim Lincecum got his second consecutive win and help the Giants out of their slump by shutting out the Cardinals 5-0. Lincecum has never posted back-to-back outings of eight or more scoreless innings in his career.
"I don't think there was a big difference between his last start and tonight's outing," said manager Bruce Bochy. "He kept the ball down, threw quality strikes all night and gave us a great effort. If you look at them, it's hard to find a big difference."
Lincecum extended his scoreless innings streak to 17 consecutive innings. This is his longest scoreless stretch since posting 21 straight scoreless frames from May 4-10, 2011. He was simply brilliant on the mound tonight. Lincecum allowed four hits and struck out six in eight shutout innings.
"You have to treat it differently," Lincecum said when asked about the comparison of his recent starts.
"We threw what we wanted to and things worked out for the best," he explained. "Things were working. I felt like I did my last start, nothing was crazy nasty or anything like that. 93, 94 [mph] but I was trying to put them in good spots and keep them off-balance and bury my pitches."
Lincecum resembled his vintage days when he escaped a bases-loaded jam. His focus was profound after he put three on with a double, single and a hit batter. Lincecum struck out the next two batters and forced Daniel Descalo to ground out to end the inning, leaving three stranded.
"No question, that's the turning point of the game," said Bochy. "He's in a tough jam there, facing some good hitters and doesn't give up a run. It kept us from getting down and having an uphill climb."
"It's tremendous," Hunter Pence said. "I really don't know how to describe it, other than, it's two phenomenal performances and he's got that groove. It's fun to play behind him."
Pence backed his ace by sparking the offense. He led off the fourth with a single and Buster Posey followed with a a RBI double giving San Francisco a 1-0 lead. Then Pablo Sandoval blasted a two-run homer to left field extending their lead 3-0. Sandoval hit his 100th career homer.
"It's hard to get one so 100 means a lot to me," said Sandoval. "I've been through a lot of things in my career so I just stay humble and play my game. I knew I was at 99 home runs coming into this game. I'm excited to get that and help us get the win, we needed it."
The Giants continued to opened up their offense by scoring two more runs in the fifth. Juan Perez lead off the inning with a single, Pence hit a RBI double and stole third base. Marco Gonzales loaded the bases after walking both Sandoval and Michael Morse with one out.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny saw enough and replaced Gonzales, who made his second Major League start with Seth Maness. Hector Sanchez grounded out and Pence scored. Brandon Crawford grounded out and the Giants had a comfortable 5-0 lead.
This is the first time San Francisco won the first game of the series since June 6 against the New York Mets. They had dropped six straight series openers. The win tonight put them back in first place over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
Notes - The Giants had another setback with their center fielder Angel Pagan. He was scheduled to come off the disabled list prior to the start of this series against the St. Louis Cardinals. But he came in on his off day yesterday and was doing some running when he had a "minor setback." Pagan will fly out to Los Angeles tomorrow to see a specialist (Dr. Watkins) and hope to find some better options than what's been used for his recovery.
"I was working out yesterday and had a minor setback, " Pagan said. "And to be cautious we want to see a specialist in LA in order to have a better plan for the future. We want the best plan possible so I can come back stronger."
Pagan explained that he has a bulging disk that is pinching a nerve causing numbness in his legs. His goal is to find a better alternative as surgery is not an option. San Francisco has struggled in the leadoff position since he's been out. They're hoping to get him back soon as he's been an asset to this team and the offense.
"We need a better plan than what we've been doing in terms of treatment, injections and medication," explained Pagan.
"He came in on his day off yesterday and we'll have the doctor look at him tomorrow," said manager Bruce Bochy. "We don't know enough to say what's wrong with him at this point."